Update from NZTR and the Members' Council
The Members’ Council met with NZTR Board Chairman Cameron George and CEO Bernard Saundry via Zoom. This replaced a face-to-face meeting with the NZTR Board which was impacted by lockdown.
Among the topics discussed was the appointment process for NZTR Board Directors, which was underway when also affected by the lockdown. The influence of lockdown and the subsequent restrictions due to alert levels on the racing calendar and programme was also covered in detail.
The Members Council received an update on NZTR’s activities including:
- The completion of the legislative reform process including the commencement of the Racing Integrity Board, the appointment of the TAB NZ Board, and the appointment of Racing New Zealand’s independent directors;
- NZTR’s response to the Government’s Covid restrictions which allowed racing to from Alert Level 3, including action on the racing program, industry funding, participant movement and work with racing clubs;
- NZTR’s delivery of a strong balance sheet and solid surplus for the 2020/21 financial year;
- The successful negotiation of a three-year industry funding agreement with the other Codes, and the implications of changes in TAB NZ funding arrangements for the industry’s cash flow;
- Subject to a review on the forecasts on betting revenue, the plan is to announce further stakes increases before the end of the 2021 calendar year.
- Work will start on the Awapuni synthetic surface before the end of the 2021 calendar year, to join the Cambridge and Riccarton surfaces built over the last three years;
- The negotiation of further RBIUC (race fields) agreements;
- The launch of the Accredited Retrainers Network and the Industry Innovation Fund; and
- Industry consultation papers to come in October seeking industry feedback on proposed new racing product initiatives and changes to participant licensing.
The Chairman of the Members Council Paul Humphries acknowledged that while the face-to-face meeting with NZTR couldn’t progress due to Covid restrictions this meeting provided a comprehensive update. The Members Council supported Cameron George in his role as NZTR Chairman while based in Australia and like many businesses worldwide are dealing with different and unconventional ways of working during the pandemic.
“We are confident that these key pieces of work are progressing well under the Chairman, Board and management of NZTR and will benefit the industry in the medium and longer term,” he said.
The Chairman of the NZTR Board Cameron George welcomed the opportunity for a free and frank exchange with the Members’ Council.
“It is the Members’ Council’s role to hold the NZTR Board to task and this meeting provided the chance for NZTR to provide an update to the Council while also addressing their concerns,” he said. “It also allowed the Members’ Council to bring us up to speed with the process around the appointment of any new NZTR Board Directors and also allow us to provide the current thinking on the timing of any succession planning of the existing Directors”.